The wrong signal

The wrong signal

LESOTHO’S coalition government this week announced
it was going to implement a process that would result in
“the dignifi ed, graceful and secure retirement” of Prime
Minister Thomas Thabane.

That process, we were told, would result in Thabane’s
“immediate” retirement from offi ce.
The deal, brokered by a South African delegation led by
former minister Jeff Radebe, would mark the end of what
has been a tumultuous and testing period for Thabane
and Lesotho.

Of course, there have since been discordant voices of
protest from hawks within Thabane’s camp who say the
weekend deal will not hold and that the premier was not
going anywhere.

That “war talk” was to be expected given the high stakes
in the fi ght to succeed Thabane. We are not surprised that
this cabal that is close to Thabane has been fi ghting to
protect their turf and the trappings of power.
In a bizarre address on Lesotho TV last Saturday,
Thabane accused certain elements within the police and
members of his own ABC party of seeking to subvert a
lawfully constituted government.

He then sent the army onto the streets.
Thabane’s deployment of the army, which caught everybody
by surprise, startled regional powerhouse South
Africa forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to immediately
dispatch a high-powered delegation to Maseru.

However, it is the contents of the communique issued
after the meetings that is of interest to us.
We are sure that no Mosotho would want to deny Thabane
“a dignifi ed” exit after his outstanding contributions
in the public service for the past fi ve decades.

Their only problem would be in interpreting what constitutes
a “dignifi ed and secure retirement” for the Prime
Minister.
That is because Thabane is facing a very serious charge
of murdering his estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane, in
June 2017.

Thabane’s new wife, ’Maesaiah Thabane, is also facing
the same charges.
Political analysts have always argued that Thabane
would not leave offi ce until he secured some kind of deal
to stop his prosecution over the Lipolelo murder.

If the “secure retirement” insinuated in that communique
refers to an amnesty deal for Thabane and his wife,
then it would be a travesty of justice.

Thabane and his wife have always insisted they were
not linked in any way to the Lipolelo murder and it would
only be fair for them to have their day in court. With their
privileged standing in society, the two will certainly have
access to some of the sharpest legal brains in the land.

It is our hope that the politicians will not rush to cut
deals behind the scenes that leave a bitter taste in the
mouths of ordinary citizens. Such a move would also set a
very bad precedent for Lesotho.

And before we conclude, we wish to comment briefl y
about the controversial deployment of the army last weekend.
We know we have a very sad and unfortunate history of
an army that has not been shy in the past to wade into the
political arena on behalf of politicians.

That must not be allowed in a democratic society.
Politicians must therefore not be in the habit of using
and abusing state machinery to fi ght what are effectively
narrow and partisan interests.

These are the same things Thabane fought against
when he was in the opposition. What was wrong four
years ago can never be right merely because Thabane is
now in power.

The deployment last weekend therefore sent the wrong
signals about the direction we are taking as a country.

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